Answer Me 1994: Episode 15
With all the husband hullaballoo, sometimes the secondary characters feel a bit too secondary, but then they’ll step to the fore with something really sweet. It’s easy to get caught up in the Oppa-Chilbongie wars (omg you guys are killing me with them), but this drama has a lot more to offer than fanwars and shipping, which is actually why I think it’s doing itself a disservice to be so coy with the “Who is he?” gimmick. Because when the show is all about the small, revealing character moments, it’s totally got my heart.
SONG OF THE DAY
Lee Seung-hwan – “Good Day” [ Download ]
EPISODE 15: “The people who changed me, Part 2”
It’s January 1996, and Na-jung is caught in a fierce tug-of-war with Garbage in the front yard… because she’s trying to sneak him into her room at night and he’s resisting. HA. She whines that he can just stay for ten minutes and nobody will be the wiser, except then Dad comes out and sees the scene. Na-jung and Garbage break apart and try not to look guilty, which of course makes them look incredibly guilty.
Dad asks suspiciously, “Are you two… maybe…?” They gulp hard, and then Dad finishes, “still fighting like mad dogs?” He barks at them to stop acting like kids while they sag in visible relief. Thank god for Dad’s dimness.
The family gathers for drama night, and Garbage joins them and makes sheepish vague excuses for why he’s been too busy to come by more often. Samcheonpo says knowingly, “And WHY do you suppose he’s been so BUSY?” (wink-wink), for which he gets his neck in a chokehold. Samcheonpo asks for some sympathy, though, since he’s going through a hard time—Yoon-jin’s been reacting to rumors of Seo Taiji and Boys’ retirement by camping outside his house with other fans. It’s hard dating a rabid fangirl.
Na-jung scoots closer to Garbage and tries to get coupley, like linking arms or putting her head on Oppa’s shoulder. He’s too conscious of Mom and Dad sitting in front of them and jerks away from her, though, jumping up nervously to get some distance. Which, aw. Girl just wants some love!
Mom and Dad remain oblivious and wonder why Na-jung can’t get a date; Dad says he’d love to push for Chilbongie if he were still living in Seoul, and Mom asks Binggeure if he knows any buddies to set her up with. Garbage looks crushed to be left out of the running, since Dad says he’d be happy with even a homeless alien if he accepted Na-jung’s personality.
Garbage takes advantage of a moment to put baby Joon down to sleep and motions for Na-jung to join him. He’s still too jumpy to let her get close, and when Mom drops by they leap apart suspiciously.
Mom feeds Garbage some soup, and Dad joins them and gets affectionate with Mom. It’s a sight that makes Garbage smile to himself… until that smile fades as he thinks a think we’re not allowed access to. Why are you sad, Oppa? Why can’t I know why?
Na-jung insists on seeing Garbage out, then tries to attack him with more hugs. He shoves her away repeatedly and finally dumps her on her bed, though he softens the blow with an aegyo wave goodnight. She slips outside anyway and waves some more as he exits from the front door, and they stand there exchanging adorkable waves at each other.
Then Mom almost catches them and Garbage scrambles to pretend nothing’s going on… and then that pensive look steals across his face again as he sees Na-jung waving merrily at him. Why are you making me nervous, Oppa?
By the time we hit the end of January, Samcheonpo’s relationship woes continue. In a hilarious scene, Samcheonpo sits by as silent comforter while Yoon-jin wails in grief, having gone to Taiji oppa’s house after he moved out and failed to loot anything, losing out to the other fangirls. Mind you, we’re not talking about personal possessions, but scraps of wallpaper and doorknobs and other fixtures their Oppa-god once touched with his hallowed hands. Or other body parts—Yoon-jin calls herself stupid for not thinking as shrewdly as the fanclub president, who ran off with the toilet seat cover.
Yoon-jin beats her “useless brain” for not thinking of walking off with a toilet or a faucet, and Samcheonpo just walks out silently. He just doesn’t get it.
Garbage and his fellow med students are given the next month off from hospital duties, and their professor advises them to get in their family and dating time while they have it, ’cause come March they’ll be back to the grind. Garbage excuses himself from drinks with the rest because he’s so excited to have Na-jung time, but then hears a message from her and panics.
As he takes off running and speeds home biting his knuckles, we hear her message telling him she’s on his way to his house and will let herself in. You’d think from his reaction that he was hiding a secret girlfriend or something equally dire, because he practically trips himself trying to beat her to his front door.
Na-jung arrives just ahead of him, though, and lets herself in. Immediately her jaw drops: His apartment is the trash can from hell. Not that we’re surprised, but it really is amazingly disgusting. Garbage offers the meek excuse, “I gathered the trash all together so I could clean it all at once.” Psh.
Na-jung can’t let this stand, so she kicks him out and gets to cleaning, and exhausts herself so much she falls asleep on the car ride home. Oppa keeps the car running with the heat while she sleeps, and once she wakes she puckers up for a big ole goodbye kiss. He casts nervous looks around since Dad could pop up at any moment and sends her away kissless, which makes her pouty.
Chilbongie, meanwhile, is in his last days of baseball training camp, and the idea of leaving in two days has his heart heavy. It’s only now that Na-jung notices her photo tucked inside his baseball cap, though she doesn’t show a strong reaction to the discovery. (Sad.)
Chilbongie is given an unexpected boon when his director lets him out to spend his last day with family. His mood makes a wild swing up from gloom to hopeful excitement as he dashes off in smiles and heads back to Seoul holding that old baseball. He doesn’t go straight to the boardinghouse, however, opting to call and leave a voicemail. All we hear is a long “Um…” and a short while later, Garbage gets a voicemail. And then so does Na-jung. Who’d he call?
Chilbongie waits outside while both Oppa and Na-jung head out in response to their calls… and it’s Garbage who shows up to see him. Na-jung, on the other hand, races to take care of Yoon-jin, who is passed out dead drunk after haunting Seo Taiji’s hotel all night. Samcheonpo is with her, but he’s just about at the end of his rope and leaves Yoon-jin in Na-jung’s care.
The boys relocate for a drink, and Chilbongie explains his purpose for calling Garbage out: to give him something. With that, he hands over that old baseball and tells its story.
This ball comes from his first defeat—it was the bottom of the 9th with two outs, no hits or runs on the scoreboard. Up stepped a batter who never had his game together, so Chilbongie pitched a hard one down the line… and the guy hit a home run. He’d been furious with himself afterward, but his coach gave him the ball and told him to accept it and win the next one.
So Chilbongie did, and exactly one year later, he played the same team and struck out that same batter—with the same pitch. “I’ll leave this ball with you,” he says to Garbage. “And I don’t know when, but someday I’ll get it back from you.”
Chilbongie: “Dreams always drive me and cause me to change. But what drives and changes me even more than that is the rival I meet at the corner on my way to those dreams.”
The next day, the boardinghouse family wonders about Chilbongie’s departure, and at mention of Yoon-jin’s name, Samcheonpo says flatly that he knows no such person. He appeals to the others for sympathy over Yoon-jin’s Seo Taiji obsession, and has to hush Binggeure when he brings up the possibility of Seo Taiji retiring. They agree that Yoon-jin would throw herself off the roof it such a day ever came—just as the TV reports that Seo Taiji officially retired today.
Almost immediately, loud wails come from Yoon-jin’s room, and Samcheonpo races up to push her back inside, yanking the door shut before she can actually go and throw herself out a window. Aw, he was complaining just seconds ago but now he’s dead-set on keeping her inside.
A long while later, Yoon-jin sits on the floor of her room, softly singing Seo Taiji’s “I Know” to herself in a sort of elegy: “I know somebody has to leave me… I couldn’t say I love you, it’s too late now anyway… Please just don’t say the world farewell, you were everything to me, oh please don’t leave me, are you really leaving me?”
Through it all, Samcheonpo sits on the other side of the door, guarding and waiting. (And eating.)
Na-jung gets a message on her pager, but when she checks it, she gets nothing but silence and hangs up. On the other end of the line we see Chilbongie in a phone booth, unable to say anything.
Yoon-jin lies in bed for the next two days, not eating or drinking a thing. Na-jung asks Garbage for his medical advice and scoffs at the suggestion that Samcheonpo feed Yoon-jin, considering their personalities. She says that the boyfriend should be more understanding, and Oppa assures her that he would act differently in that kind of situation, since he’s as open-hearted as the ocean. Then she says she’s going to go see her basketball oppa play in a game (nice of the show to remember that basketball was once her everything), and Oppa puts his foot down. “Ocean, my foot,” she grumps.
Samcheonpo gets more and more worried, telling Yoon-jin she’ll die if she doesn’t eat. She says dully that that’s her wish, and he frustratedly leaves her to her sulking.
Thank goodness for Dad, then, who isn’t having it and literally carries her to the kitchen (and then accidentally knocks her head into a doorjamb, whoops). He orders her to eat and everyone urges her to try something. Samcheonpo scolds her not to be so rude to Mom and Dad, and she takes up a spoonful, which unfortunately makes her gag and race for the bathroom.
Garbage drops Na-jung off after another date, and as usual gruffly orders her inside, declining her invitation to come in. She makes a show of grumbling and then sneaks a peck on the cheek, grinning that she just likes him so much. But thank heavens it finally gets Garbage a kick in the pants, and he leans over to plant a kiss—a good one, on the lips—and even moves in for a second, shoving aside his worry over being seen.
Then he walks her to the door holding her hand, and checks that her father will be home tomorrow night. Omo, is tomorrow the big day? He tells her to dress nicely and says that he’ll tell Dad about their relationship, and then they can date openly. He hugs her close and wonders if they’ll be able to get any sleep tonight.
Yoon-jin continues to be in her funk, listening to her Seo Taiji tapes on repeat, and the family wonders where Samcheonpo has been the last day or two. At that, he comes home… lugging a toilet bowl. Omg, is that what I think it is? The family gapes at the sight, and he grimaces that he can’t believe he’s gone to such lengths.
He tells Yoon-jin that he’s just come from Seo Taiji’s house and starts hauling the toilet upstairs. And that, finally, brings a smile back to Yoon-jin’s face.
A little while later they sit admiring its new place on the terrace, where Yoon-jin has planted a little tree inside the bowl. Samcheonpo asks her why she likes Seo Taiji so much, and she links her arm through his and leans on his shoulder before answering.
She explains how she was embarrassed in grade school when all the kids found out about her mother being mute, and it made her not want to be around anyone or stared at. She’d shut herself in her room watching TV, and one day she saw Seo Taiji on a docu-type program. The glimpse at the real person behind the star made him feel closer, like a real oppa, and listening to his songs made her feel stronger.
Na-jung: “Just as Seo Taji changed Yoon-jin, so did Yoon-jin for Sung-kyun, and Oppa for me, and me for Oppa. We did things that we never would have thought to do if not for love. What changes the world is love.”
And so, Oppa greets Mom and Dad formally and explains his feelings for Na-jung. Mom’s first reaction is a laugh of disbelief, but Dad stands up with a stone face and leaves the room without a word.
Na-jung paces outside anxiously while Garbage talks with Mom, and he calls her afterward to assure her that all was fine, and that they can date openly now. Garbage gets off the call and spots Chilbongie’s baseball, which he puts back into his drawer.
At the same time, Chilbongie calls the boardinghouse from Japan, and the kids all gather ’round excitedly to chat with him. They pass the phone amongst themselves, but he hurriedly cuts the call short before they can call Na-jung over, giving the excuse that he has to get back to training. Of course, it isn’t lost on her that it’s eleven at night and too late for training, making it all too evident why he rang off.
Chilbongie sits in his hotel room and sees the snow outside, which makes him recall the other times he’d seen snow with Na-jung—when she’d been excited about the first snow, on the night they’d had their last drink together, and when he’d asked to date her in the future if they met again.
So we return to 2013, where Garbage finishes beating Samcheonpo with a pillow for bringing up an awkward subject. Chilbongie’s serious face breaks into a small smile, and he tosses the baseball over to Garbage, who smiles back at him. There’s zero explanation for why, but I’m sure we can rustle up a hundred and one interpretations.
The potentially clairvoyant cousin is released from the hospital and chats with Garbage’s brother over the phone. As it turns out, it was hyung who told her in advance about Garbage’s girlfriend, HA. So she gave him a false breakup prediction just to needle him, did she?
Probably-non-clairvoyant cousin extorts a bit of spending cash from Garbage, pouting that the shuttle buses aren’t running and she needs to take a taxi. He barks that the shuttle is still good for another run but grudgingly hands over the cash anyway.
That puts her in such a good mood that she heaps the flattery on him—Oppa’s the best, and he totally has to stay with his girlfriend. Ha, but nobody believes you anymore. Oppa certainly doesn’t appear to, though he stops to consider her words for a moment.
The cousin bypasses the shuttle stop and hails a cab… just as an employee informs the people in line that the last shuttle has been canceled. Hm, so is she possibly clairvoyant after all? Or is this coincidence? Or door number three, and the show’s just yanking our chain every chance it gets? Yeah, I’m going with three.
Sooooo, the husband. We’re leaning toward Garbage again (though I’d argue this has not changed in weeks), with additional info about some of the ambiguous points, like the psychic’s breakup prediction being a fake (or at least contradicted by the newer one). Based on the story as of today, the most straightforward reading of the baseball possession is that Chilbongie never got it back from Garbage, but that in 2013 he’s moved past it and can look at it with a nostalgic smile.
There are additional ways to interpret this, of course, because we don’t know the details and have to rely on connecting a lot of dots ourselves. (If Chilbongie is the husband, maybe he got the ball back at some point and didn’t want to hurt Oppa’s feelings by reminding him in 2013. In that case, however, throwing the ball to him seems out of character. I feel like the one who “lost” can do it to the one who “won” to say No hard feelings, but the reverse doesn’t work so well.)
The writer is deliberately withholding information from us so there is crucial stuff missing to purposely keep us in the dark (which I am getting mighty tired of), so at any point between now and 2013, the story could change with one big twist. However, based on what has happened to date, I’m going with the straightforward explanation. And thus far the show has generally gone with the simple explanation over the convoluted rationale.
One of my big pet peeves about this writing choice is that I feel like it’s actively fueling the fanwars, which, you guuuuuuys. This nonsense has to stop, please—the escalation of animosity between sides is ruining the game for everyone. I like both guys, so reading the back-and-forth insults leaves me very confused because I find myself siding with whoever’s being insulted purely on principle, only the insults are flying in both directions so now I just don’t like anybody. This is not helping anyone.
I do like that the baseball is tied into the concept of Chilbongie “accepting things”—yes, it spurred him to come back and win the second game, but to do so he had to first accept his defeat—accept, not stew in self-hate. In that sense it acts as a closing of one chapter with the option for a second, rather than just some stubborn challenge to Garbage. Because let’s be honest here, nobody wants to watch two cavemen fighting over a girl like she’s theirs to possess. We’ve seen those dramas before, and this one is better than that. I don’t read his message as “Watch your back, I’m gonna steal your girl,” but a follow-up to his comments to Na-jung in yesterday’s episode—he’s expressing an understanding that he missed whatever chance he had this time but that he still wants one later. And that he believes he’s not out of the running for that future shot.
I continue to be annoyed at the show for jerking my chain, which is preventing me from riding the emotional wave with the couple. In contrast, I loved the Samcheonpo and Yoon-jin storyline today, and the juxtaposition of them against the baseball handoff really highlighted how much I preferred to watch a relationship that is just allowed to run its course. Knowing that Yoon-jin and Samcheonpo end up married in no way diminished my appreciation for their development, and allowed us instead to explore the question of how their connection grew.
It felt so realistic to have Samcheonpo nearing the end of his rope with Yoon-jin’s obsession with Seo Taiji, despite going to lengths to find ways around his frustration, because her love for that guy is pretty damn extreme. Funny from a distance, perhaps, but infuriating to live with. I think we can see that Yoon-jin cares for Samcheonpo as her boyfriend and that her infatuation with Seo Taiji is akin to hero-worship (so, they are separate feelings and therefore not at odds), but it sure doesn’t feel that way to the boyfriend left on the outside.
But when she’s at her loneliest moment, I love that he arrives at the decision to choose the thing that will help her, even if he doesn’t understand why. He has been beating his head against a wall trying to understand why she’d feel this way and hasn’t been able to move past that incomprehension, but in her moment of need, that is no longer the point. And even knowing that they’re still together in the future, this is the moment when you realize that they’re really going to be okay. I would love this moment of clarity in our main storyline too, even if I feel like that is just not going to happen. I know that continuing the mystery is the point, but if we continue to obscure the truth, we don’t get wonderful relationship moments like this, which is a shame.
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 14
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 13
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 12
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 11
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 10
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 9
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 8
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 7
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 6
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 5
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 4
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 3
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 2
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 1